After collaborating in projects of creation, distribution and exchange of ideas, such as Surtido workshops, PechaKucha micro-meetings or Otrascosas space (sponsored by Villar-Rosàs agency) Morro, with the priceless collaboration of Oriol Villar, has carried on a new adventure, a new project, a new space. It is AOO, Altrescoses Otrascosas Otherthings.
If you walk by 8 Sèneca Street, in Barcelona, you’ll easily find things that are hard to find, a whole collection of household items, from chairs to mugs, through bedside tables or lamps from different and various origins. We talked with him about AOO and many “otherthings”…
Photography: José Hevia
And, what’s the last present you’ve been given?
My mum has given to me an apron again, for the moments when I’m working at my workshop. It’s handmade by her. We both made one together on Christmas, but it burned at my workshop because of an accident, actually almost the whole workshop was burned. My mum makes them as a hobby but actually she is a great craftswoman.
I want to know what Altrescoses is. What kind of space, project or plasmation of a philosophy is it?
We like saying that Altrescoses is a place where you can easily find things that are hard to find. It’s like a beach bar, a dreamt project which, thanks to Oriol’s confidence on me, has been carried on. Here you will find many beautiful things, at least in our opinion, and will perceive all the processes they involve. And there are many processes which you can find those such beautiful things by.
Selection is a classical item in a shop. We select things from different brands, different places or small craftsmen and we take them directly to our shop. What’s selected and what’s rejected? We take things we would like to have at home or things we already have and we want them to be more accessible. It’s that easy.
During the editing process, we edit self articles or other creator’s pieces. We always work with the best craftsmen or producers to do that. Some examples are the “Pepitu”, the “Salvador” and many other things which still are in progress.
And finally the workshop, our third leg, that responds to many motivating things for me. On the one hand I create self-designed pieces at my workshop in Poblenou, manufactured in small series on request, such as “la Cadireta” or “el Tripo”. On the other hand we also produce bespoke pieces. We love when some client comes to our workshop and asks us for a special serie of pieces he himself has imagined, but the most magical moment comes when someone comes with a specific idea for his home. These are bespoke projects which some of them are completely new and some other appear whith a simple modification of an existing piece. Finally we also do repairs in our workshop. Some people comes to us with some broken furniture or messed pieces and we repair them. I usually do that kind of works but sometimes I ask some trusted craftsman for it. It’s nice.
At AOO, we all like things, the “otherthings”, and try to show how and how much we like them. You can buy everything that is here, can ask us for a specific piece for you or we can even repair your beautiful messed pieces.
Looking at your career we realise you don’t hesitate to conclude a project or change it whenever you feel like or think it has met the objectives. Is it something necessary not to get bored, not to fall into monotony, maybe something to find new stimulating projects?
I feel it is important to realise things are not forever and, even when they are so, they are so only once.
I usually change from one project to another, but always over the same direction or by following a common subject. I love doing things, in the most literal sense of the word, and, above all, I love making things happen. I’ve been lucky because I’ve been finding people who have trusted me for carry out those projects. Now is the time for AOO, and it is definitely the projec that excites me the most among all I’ve ever done. I always feel so with every new project. Whe this feeling is over, it is time for a change.
As an editor, where do you usually look for the articles you sell at AOO? What’s your method when it comes to tracking future pieces to edit or reedit?
For the selection process we select, as I’ve said, those things we would like to have at home or things we already have.
As editors, we work over two ways, editing and reediting. I can honestly tell you that creating a product publisher company, even when it is a very small one like ours, with the intention to supply the world with more products, it is a great responsability so we have an ethic exigence that slows us down. That’s the reason why we focus the edition this way.
As reeditors, we recover different objects and remake them our way. For instance, Salvador is a chair, designed by Miguel Milà, that was being edited by Gres for many years ago, and now we have recovered it with some improvements. Or Pepitu, the typical lounger reinvented by us, with a beech structure and Majorcan handmade cloth.
Now we are working in some new pieces with Miquel, always following the philosophy of our way of recovering. We are working in a new rattan chair, some trays and probably a bedroom clothes-stan, appart from some new versions of Pepitu with new different clothes.
At “Normals” we will find such basic and everyday pieces that won’t have the sensation of doing anything new but reinterpreting the daily routine normalities, such as a box or a wire catcher.
Yo bet for an artisan and small-scale production. Is it a matter of moral principles or it comes to costs?
I think that’s because of the resources, costs and reasonableness. Our costs structure only allows us to work with small producers, but it also has the advantage of being able to modify or improve the pieces while we are selling them, so we can ask for small new productions. It can be nonsense, but when you have a shop, stocking is a very important thing, even more whe the shop is small.
Do you think this time of crisis is a good opportunity to find new partners with whom to experience, to create riskily, to add synergies? I mean, once the boom is over, and in the midle of the current crack, do you see that people, creators and designers are more open to new ways of collaboration?
It’s curious that, over just a few metres, Sèneca street focuses so many spaces and galleries with so much personality, all of them related to interiorism, fashion and design. What’s your relation with your neighbours and what kind of typical visitor/client have you detected to date?
Our neighbours are great. The most close ones are Shukri and Viveca d’Ox. Not only they are lovely, but also they have an exquisite furniture collection. Exactly the same as Xucla, from Diagonal lighting shop. You can also find some classics like Miquel Arzueta gallery, Copia (one of the best places to reveal your photos at), studios like Morillas or Exit, or finally Cuervo shoe workshop, where Emili makes amazing handmade shoes.
The truth is that there is a very good feeling in this street, and people over here realises about that. They see some of these wonders and suddently they find us amidst all this.
When Arquitectura-G team reformed the shop, what were the main lines of the project? Why did you chose them? What do you agree about the way they focus their projects?
We have a relation of friendship and admiration with Arquitectura-G. When we thought about reforming the shop our admiration over them made us have no doubts about the choise. Actually, in the very first moments of AOO project, I knew for sure it was going to be them who would reform the shop.
We gave them absolute freedom to do whatever they wanted, with a limited budget, but with no impositions. Our premises were totaly functional. They came about how much space we needed and things lake that. But we trusted them fully.
When you are not at AOO, what spaces, bars, restaurants, shops and places of Barcelona do you like visiting? What spaces do you enjoy being at?
I love my workshop in Poblenou, but actually it belongs to AOO. When it comes to eating or drinking something, I like going to Il Giardinetto restaurant, the Morro Fi or the Mitja Vida one. I like Xemei too and, even when it’s not a place to go every day, I love it. I like The Out Post and really enjoy the smell of COS store, the clothes too although, thanks to them, now we all look like as if we dress in uniforms. I feel at home when I visit Xavi and Jara, two very good friends of mine who live in La Rambla de Poblenou. I like walking all over my neighbourhood finding old craftsmen who still are alive and, as often as I can (which is not very often) I love going to my island, Mallorca. Once I am there, everything is right.
People say you can never forget the irst love, even when it is not corresponded. What was the first project you remember having been fascinated by? What did it aroused your curiosity to know how it had been made?
In my childhood, I think it might be a tiny electric motorbike that ran 2 kilometers an hour. I didn’t understant the reason why it was electric whereas my fathe one ran on gasoline. So one day, I disassembled the bike and filled it of sand in order to make it work better. It never worked again.
Now it may be Miquel Milà’s TMC. It s the first piece I had to draw and analize when I started studying design. It fascinated me. Some years ago, people from Santa & Cole gave me one. It was like closing a cycle.
What do you try to transmit to your pupils beyond the pure and simple school subject?
At Elisava I teach some subjects that fascinate me, but I’m not that sure if that subjects fascinate my pupils too. I teach Projects at second and forth year, Theory and Analysis at second year and Final Degree Project Investigation at fourth year. I always try to encourage them to analize and discover all the things in order to create their personal speech when it comes to starting a new project. But I think it’s too difficult for students to enjoy creating their theoric speeches in order to carry them out later. Aditionally I always try to teach new tendency, teaching doesn’t finish with Bauhaus.
What teacher, from your period as a student, do you keep the best memory of? And why?
The two great teachers who accompanied me along all my studies and with whom I still have a good relationa and have great esteem are, with no doubt, Martín Azúa and Curro Claret. You only need to know them not to wonder the reason why I feel that way, they are Martín and Curro. Out of the school (but during my studies) I worked at HP Barcelona for some time, and there my tutor was Jordi Morillo who taught me many things. Now we are friends and he also is one the teachers I keep very good memories of.
Do you prefer music or silence when you are working? And in case you prefer music, what music are you listening to (and designing while listening) lately?
I wouldn’t tell you anything but topics about music, actually music is something up to Clara at the shop, and she leads it nicely. So it will be better to tell you about a recent mania I’m taking at work. My workshop occupies the half of my house, separated by some walls, but if the TV is on and with a high volume I can hear it from the workshop. So I switch it on the option of extra explanations for blind people which includes an off voice that describes the situations (apart from the dialogues). Listening to films while working is such an experience.
Photography: Jara Varela
Photography: Adrià Cañameras
Altrescoses, Otrascosas, Otherthings
Space design: Arquitectura G
Space lighting: Santa & Cole
Brand design: Raw Color
Product photography AOO: Jara Varela
Space photography AOO: José Hevia